What the News Taught Me About Age and Ageism I Did Not Know

By McKenzie Clarke

I have learned several things in the newspapers over the course of the last couple of days that, although not all speak directly to age, the lens could certainly be applied. For instance, I learned that U.S. researchers of the virus are not yet seriously applying the lens of gender to the data they are gathering, thus already leaving a large gap wide open in helping to construct an understanding of how this epidemic influences the bodies and daily lived experiences of women. Apply the lens of age, and one realizes in turn that vital data on how the virus interact with elder women’s bodies, data that might prove informative on how women as a whole might be stronger or more susceptible to the sickness, does not yet exist. I can only hope that not too many women, Black women in particular, suffer due to the negligence that our gendered and racialized bodies tend to receive.

I have also learned that the practice of “social distancing” can prove very harmful to the psychological health of elders who may suffer invariably from loneliness. Some countries like the U.K. have mandated that elders, in particular, should self-distance. I can only think how devastating it must be to be singled out by the government for being more or less a threat to public health because of your age. It is already a scary time for elders! Such mandates require them to be particularly strong to survive such societal suspicion.